Friday, January 30, 2009

Changing Minds

Article of the Day:

Book of Note:

Western science, through the work of Davidson at UW/Madison among others, have been proving the benefits on the mind by practicing meditation. The lastest MRI, EEG, and the latest testing on Tibetan lamas have shown without a doubt the changes in the prefrontal lobes, especially, and connecting amygdala and hippocampas sections of the brain. These scientists have overturned the existing thought that we are genetically born with only so many neurons and slowly waste away as we get older. The brain can generate new neural capacity, can enlarge more positive sections like the left prefrontal lobe controlling emotions like compassion, etc and shrinking the amygdala, the reptile source of reaction. This puts a whole new meaning on the phrase "Changing Your Mind".

When the scientists quizzed the lama and asked him when in deep contemplation if he ever senses anger, the lama replied he did not. Buddhists generally believe that anger is a mental affliction and never has a reason to exist. The Westerners seem to make excuses for anger at every turn.

What the lama's statement means to me is that I am not an innate angry person, as I may have been accused. When I self evaluate, I don't see myself as an angry person, I don't want to be an angry person. Anger must come into me from the outside and I let it in. It is my lack of training or emotional maturity that causes the cascade of pain associated with unskillful speech, violent actions or confused opinions resulting from anger/rage and my reaction. It is the control of my inner self that is changing the world, not the other way around.

I invite all working people to reevaluate their relationships on the shop floor. To address the most difficult and the most trusting and speak of an affection for each. To resonate a common goal and promote peace. Enjoy your work.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Labor, Where Art Thou?

Update Article:;_ylt=AgzqXUIvRM5Tg4UzAcTQGUYDW7oF

I've been in organized labor for thirty years, screaming all the way down. There is not much left to fight about but the members sure find a way to release their frustrations. It seems they are not good followers of autocratic rule, nor should they be. Those that pay attention and possibly, maybe read their union's monthly magazine, can sense that partnership with the employers is a questionable tactic that has lead to little success.

So they get on their hindlegs and sometimes elect a fighting mad board of officers. These little internal democratic revolts are a direct result of the lack of respect on the jobsite floor towards the working people. They throw the bums out. What happens next inevitably takes a simple hopeful union thinking person and throws their dreams on the rocks. The International trustees the local and returns it tied with a big red ribbon back to the capitalist/Reagan thinking types, those that look at their fellow workers as necessary, but with contempt, to be ruled never to rule.

The next act is to start a big new 'organizing drive' to show how busy the appointed suckpumps can be. They make promises of doubling the membership, etc, never getting close and blame the legislators for lousy laws. They next fixate on electing new (meaning old) politicians to get laws in place to help these organizing goals. There has been no success to speak of in this tactic, yet it's safe to proceed because, Oh they look so busy and the photo ops are great PR. Meanwhile, the people with the Union heart and soul, their spirits are ground down, the fight is wasted on their own union and the workplace is getting worse and worse.

So I'm proposing to those members that have faced such a scenario of failure to try something new. I'm calling it "Internal Organizing". I know you haven't lost faith in your fellow workers. There are people you spend almost everyday you'd take a bullet in the neck for. I know you have seen how workers have banded to together for a common goal and won dignity and respect (it may have been a while ago, but you remember). I don't want you to drain your energy expressing rage at those oppurtunists sitting in your local officers chairs right now. I'm asking that you look deeply into yourself and evaluate your life. I'm asking that you give the respect to working people that you demand of yourself. I want you to deeply contemplate your work situation, look around and be aware of help and encouragment that can be offered, proceed to be a leader for your coworkers. Don't let the bastards grind you down by keeping a genuine smile as your shield. Not for the bosses' sake or more production or profit, but for your own sake.

We really don't need these bureaucratic stuctures overseeing our collective sick conscienous. We do need a better quality union person, one that deals in respect first and last. It may take time, for all we know a lot shorter than we think, so be good to each other and navigate the politics correctly. It's not who you are. Let's begin again caring for each other on a personal level, recognizing that some of us need time, training and forgiveness. Labor is the only constant in this society, all wealth comes from it, working people have diminished its' value. Let's proceed to reclaim it's ultimate role of providing a bountiful and prosperous existence for all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of Course I'm Happy, I'm Shallow


Anyone sticking up for themselves in this culture is considered crazy and open for derision. Smarmy reporters, acting like they are delivering news only delivering judgement, are allowed in our living room to spew negative opinions about innocent people. Comedians are the only citizens allowed to say any sarcastic, mean, libelous, ill tempered descriptions and it's easier to think of anyone on television and media as comedians not to be taken seriously. But, like phoney wrestling leaking into Ulitmate Fighing as entertainment, our brains need to pause and consider all information entering. What is real, what is a joke.

Trashing a persons' character has become normal conversation. Gossip is the main course of discourse. Be careful letting out any personal information, it's all fair game to those around you to use in order to hold up their little insecurities and cheap laughs. Very few heroes in the world today, no one in their right minds would want to be a leader, who wants to be the butt of a continuous joke? The shallowness of the public is measured in microns.

When will those struggling for the underdog get respect? When the downtrodden admit to themselves how badly they have it. When they recognize they are not special and need each other, not independent contractors toiling in competitive spirit, when they realize they or their kids won't be President some day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Note to Self

Suggested author- David Korten:

Is there a feeling in your life that you are in control of your life? Does the nagging question, "Why was I born?" ever pop up? Is a cork riding the waves of the ocean an apt metaphor?

I'm pondering just how many people get satisfaction from a 40 hourly job. I'm listening now to people with an inflated sense of how much they love their jobs. I see the phony smile and hear the empty words and want to believe that it is true, I wish it to be true, but it seems so desperate. No doubt the security may be comforting, but the spirit is hurting.

When have we been given time to develop a mind of our own? When is having one respected? Is there a tipping point where a person knows he will never own his mind and he resents another that does? It's hard to be positive in a negative world.

I lost my mind and I'm not sure I ever had it in the first place. When I fought for self respect, I was considered arrogant. When I did what I wanted to do, I was selfish. When I was kind, I was suspected. This system does not foster trust, understanding or relationships. I have created a very small economic system that highlights these qualitites and I will work to maintain it. Decisions are mine and best done with true intentions. I will find my way.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dalai Lama - Truck Driver

I would assume he gets good gas mileage.
Never suffers road rage.
Feels sad for the bugs on his windshield.
Doesn't get lost.

His cab would have a hitchhiker or two.
Be awake without coffee or speed.
It would be hard to find a meal without meat.
What could he be haulin?

Is there an ethical load in your trailer?
Does running over a small animal everyday affect your karma?
What's your take on high fuel costs?
Are you more than a truck driver?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Support Your Union Steward

Article of the Day:

The vanishing role of the Union Steward is no mystery. The emotional strain on the person taking the role of jobsite advocate is unrewarding, unsatisfying and, to the unions' detriment, unneeded because it is more often than not their own members that cause the misery. Many times the middle manager that is often portrayed as Big Bad Boss is no more than a stressed out, squeezed and overworked drone. It would be in his or her interest to foster the worker that undermines the stewards efforts of improving the jobsite by hanging the carrot of promotion or special favors to that souless, broken and disspirited wage slave. The union steward cannot fight a two front war, it would demoralize anyone no matter how righteous.

There are many examples of the union rep or BA coming out of the Hall and undercutting the steward right on the jobsite, ruling on the employers behalf. If I was steward I wouldn't go one inch forward and resign right there. At that point there is not a union presence on the job and there is no reason to live in delusion of such a situation most wanted. Pack your tools and wait for the layoff.

The type of person that takes on the role of steward usually has a high level of self respect and sense of right and wrong. These fine qualities will be tested everyday finding out that some coworkers and fellow union members do not have a low bar in these qualities. They are frightened, browbeaten, supplicant, and trained by popular culture not to think for themselves or defend themselves. Taught to 'not rock the boat' at a very young age. Those that speak up are considered "weird" and are open for derisive comments. It takes and incredible amount of internal control to work on someone's behalf who doesn't deserve the benefits of the struggle. Of course, it goes without saying who will be first in line and claiming credit for those benefits, or now considered, "entitlements". There will be no acknowledment for the person that is the lightning rod and taking the mental and spiritual beating from management and workers. It has been decided oddballs don't get respect.

Anytime a worker brings up a safety issue - back 'em up. So many times I've heard flapping gums with a Big Fat Opinion why this demand is unnecessary. It may have something to do with the Tough Guy Syndrome, or it is just plain ignorance. If nothing else, don't say a thing whether you understand it or not. You are not gaining points from the Boss, you are acting like an ass in front of the people that may have to save your life. Don't put doubt in their minds.

Actively working against the steward is treason in the continuing class war. This person deserves respect and admiration. Disagreements of points or tactics should be discussed quietly and privately out or the earshot of company snitches and confused wage slaves. Tell your steward, "Thanks" at any time throughout the work day. Support Your Union Steward. Let's rebuild the labor movement on the jobsite level.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Am Not A Farm Animal

There is one local union that is attempting to correct the long held traditions that make their workplaces misery zones. LU 134 IBEW has seminars for 3rd, 4th and 5th yr apprentices on Emotional Intelligence teaching them to think correctly for themselves and not to accept the actions of the abusive House Slave Straw Boss, called the foreman in the industry, and his or her insecurities and lack of human skills as the last word.

They pointed out to the contractors why their segment of the industry is dying - supervision is awful, and offering a solution to the problem is to the local's credit. While it may take some time for the payback of training young men and women to disperse into the workforce, overall the jobsite will become more tolerable and compassionate.

Dr. Donohue and Mr. Lynch started this program after years of stories concerning abuse of apprentices by those returning to the school training course of several weeks a year. I, personally, went through over a dozen shops in my time because I never took well to being treated with disrespect and the coordinator at the time seemed to think I was a malcontent. He supported the systemic cruelity of the system and would have never questioned the contractors choice of who was running their work, no matter how psychotic a person it was, we were supposed to take orders. I feel this program of EI and possibly other courses of the mind taught to all members of the local would only improve interpersonal realationships and make the union stronger. They are on the cutting edge ofthe labor movement and I salute them.


I have removed myself from all worksites because of the attitudes I'd been fighting for over 25 years were continuing to be impressed upon me as normal. I was treated like a farm animal and I have no more interest in being one. These workplace interactions, my struggle for respect over the years, and the sadness that came upon me realizing the hell we put ourselves in during the workweek welled up and left me, not without much mental pain. I will not return to the mindset of a slave, unquestioning and dutifully silent. It made me a incredibly negative person and someone not to be around. Finally, I see a program that may change the working people's mindset and a little hope goes a long way in my personal journey.

Suggested reading: Goleman Quotes -

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More or Less

More talk does not add to the conversation.
More action does not mean the job is getting done.
More sacrifice does not mean the finish line is closer.
More suffering does not a saint make.

Less food may mean a better diet.
Less medicine may make you well.
Less desires will lead to happiness.
Less money gives you more time to think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Buddha is Cool

Last night I got instruction on 5 Precepts of Buddhism. Now I am a willing listener, now after internal turmoil and a lifetime of pyscho-suffering, I am an audience willing to receive the message. Breaking the cycle of suffering is the goal - seems so simple.

Refrain from taking life (or intending to, maybe)

Easy enough, unless it applies to diet. Much discussion on this, but certainly tied to the anger emotion and the quiet, internal wish someone would die.

Refrain from unskillful speech

The crux of my biscuit. The way people talk to each other with rudeness and aggresion just goes right through me these days. Insult follows insult and passes for humor. If I don't go along with it, I'm too serious. Striving to be mindful of my language.

Refrain from sexual aberrations or excess

I thought I was having pleasure and it was good. My spirit took a beating.

Refrain from taking what is not freely given.

Not just Thou shalt not steal, but not to impose yourself on others time. Many applications here,by far possibly the most profund.

Refrain from mental intoxicants

Drugs, alcohol, forsure, but how about crappy television? or a car radio with tormenting commercials? So much poisin in so many forms we let into our brain.

I've learned so much in the past year and will continue to research and live a better life. Peace to all.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Terrors

I call them Monday Terrors. High anxiety seems to begin on my Sunday sleep and the next morning is filled with the most self-doubt of the week. I do question myself and worry about the future, not just for me and my health, but the terrible state the world is in. I do not live in a vacuum. Outside events do affect me. I do internalize the injustice I face every day whether locally or globally, and, interpersonally is the most hurtful. I couldn't go to work and face the abuse the workers had for each other. In time, even hearing the voices stealed my defensive emotions, knowing no good words were coming. So I left. It was my emotions that took over my reason and I've been familiarizing myself with them since then through meditation. Destructive relationships create destructive emotions. Both should be avoided at all costs.

I do have a job today. I got a call and request to do some work. I will go to the site and talk nicely with the customer in a genuine manner. I will weigh the needs of the job and get the materials necessary to complete it. I may even fit a yoga class in the middle of my work day. I will do the job at my pace and at my leisure. And I will collect my money with appreciation from the person receiving my labor efforts and with graciousness on my part. This is how I intend to work in the future.

I've taken up taking melatonin for sleep. I can't say it hurts. Sometimes I still need it, sleep is still difficult at times, as it is for a majority of people.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Voice from the Swamp

I'm supposed to have a job. I have for the most part of thirty years. I'm accomplished in my field, knowledgable in my craft and talented. Yet, I can't get into a slave mentality.

Does anyone even talk in terms of personal freedom today? Crawling to the finish line and getting a crumbs for a pension is what work seems to be about. Freedom from hunger, a basic human staple the state can't even provide, is the main discussion. Maybe freedom from not having that Apache war ship not strafe your neighborhood passes for a people striving for freedom.

What got me into this state of withdrawl is the fact I cared too much and I attached too much of my life and being to my job. I wanted a better place to spend my awake moments and others were satisfied with it as it was, the misery I saw it as it was. If your attitude is 'anything for a buck' life was OK there. I wanted more out of life and now it's all mine to make something.

I have learned to relax and I want to point out to those drones still in the hive of employment that the routine and pressures under a 40 hr week will not allow you to settle down. It's planned that way to keep you in a state of constant agitation. Squeezing you and draining dignity is inherent in the management philosophies of business schools. Don't take work personal. I know you have heard it said, but take the time (on their time) to rest and reevaluate your life position everyday. Pay attention to what is deeply held in your mind and let the surface thoughts of recent stress go. Only your mental health is important and don't turn your soul over to them.

Inner peace to all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Book Review - Going Postal/Ames

Book Review:

A must read for any workplace stressed out person in this Century of Despair. The last two decades changed the American minds, capturing and corporatizing it, giving management perspective to any problems confronted. A very usatisfying life for the sensitive, thinking person results if on the plantation, in the workplace or high school grind.

Mark Ames makes a compelling case that shooting rampages in the workplace or schoolyard are analogous to slave rebellions in early American history. Slaves didn't normally revolt, and when they did, they did not get the sympathy of their fellow slaves. Everyone was about maintaining the status quo, screaming about the injustice of it all only makes one mentally ill and harshly dealt with. Now on the moral high round, this society holds John Brown or Nat Turner as heroes, but in their day they were hearing voices in their heads, seeing visions, and planning attacks on "innocent" citizens to call for righting a human wrong. What seems abhorrant to shocked Middle America, the popular status of school shooters like Harris or Klebold or Anorexic Andy or a giddy laugh about postal workers' rage attacks defies the accepted myths of the current culture that we live in the"land of the free." Some people do get it - it's not the sick people doing the awful deeds, it's the sick conditions of the workplace and the schol systems that drive them to act in such an awful manner.

This book begins in the Reagan Revolution - a revolution of the mind that place durring the 80's. Destroying unions to help working people. Attempting to eliminate the Dept of Education to help students. Social services are unneeded as only the undeserrving get it. Turn your head to the homeless, don't care, just don't look into their eyes. War is Peace. Ignorance is Strength, etc. 1984 did arrive right on time and the descriptive background of Orwell is present in the world today. Before going forward with this plan, first it was essential to remove deeply held human components, like compassion and peace, and replace them with competition and stress. This was heralded as the correct way to think and any other expressions were to be degraded, dismissed and devalued, as kindness usually doesn't lead to money. Money being the only reason to exist according to this new world order. Having concern for those of disadvataged means, advocating for human rights, crying for the innocent and injured of the warfare state makes one perceived as mentally ill, not as someone living in a sick society. The state will punish such actions that arise from human compassion ruthlessly, no matter how innocent or inconvenient. This is the Reagan Doctrine.

Parents on the hampster wheel of providing a good home and a good school for their children bring their overworked stress to their already overstressed children, put into a pressure cooker of test grades and college admissions. Striving to get ahead while resources are disappearing in this country, combined with the philisophical fog of "personal responsibility" concerning all choices in ones' life, has created a perculating internalized rage within its' population. Seeking to help people is considered a foolish career move. Cheating in school tests are all too common, as is the parents' careers in finance, real estate and most occupations. The stress is passed, the cycle continues, and the disspirited citizen carries the weight until he or she cracks, feeding the pharmacutical industry and dying slowly inside.

I melted down. I couldn't take it anymore. This book went a long way to explain why the external world seems so harsh and unlivable in this country today. I don't want to cooperate in promoting these crushing concepts put forth as "normal". The structures are corrupt because the personal relationships are corrupt. We see each other as marks, as someone to gain an advantage from. It's deeply ingrained now and the newest generation has no other framework to compare. "Me First" makes perfect sense right from the womb and where exactly can they see another example? I've dropped out because I feel so unwelcome wherever I go, especially the workplace. I want to work in a cooperative manner, live in a cooperative home situation, and surrounded by kind people in my social life. I believe if I wait long enough in my lotus position, all these wishes will come to pass. Reagan be damned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Free PainInside

Article of the Day:

It's easy to focus in on the misery in this world. There is simply so much of it. How much am I responsible for war, hungry and homelessness? How does everyone else not notice or care? Are their mean comments a defensive mechanism and misplaced anger at the closest target? I find it hard to understand that a human can be so cruel to another and searching for reasonable answer, otherwise, all these actions are filed under being "evil" which is an expanding file as I write.

Destructive emotions seem to rule the political world. Anger, hate, resentment are accepted as motivation in the Western world. The workplace is a microcosim of the greater structures above it. When the Big Boss is a dictator, all the little despots below him/her try to top the institutional arrogance. Police brutality of the population is directly connected to the dismissal of concerns by politicians and those in place to control them. The system/workplace is also intimidated by the monsters they create, and the cycle of inhumanity continues. Does anyone with a job today not deal with a petty bully ruining the day, driving you to sleeplessness? Does anyone else recognize the terror this particular person causes and is willing to help neutralize or straighten them out? Certainly not the Boss, all Boss' jobs are to get someone else to do their work. One less dirty duty for them to do and one more a spiritually bankrupt worker is glad to do thinking he may someday get a promotion for the effort.

"They don't put nice guys in charge", I was told as a youngster. I shouldn't be surprised by this statement, I simply don't see the productive sense in it. It seems the management class, highly educated to be the biggest bastards possible, have anyone left to manage. What's left of the workplace are lesser educated bastards who are not so subtle and cuttthroat in their attitude. Nice guys have all been eliminated, and more than likely, they were the ones who liked their jobs and did most of the actual work. Nice guys don't plot and plan and gossip and conspire to advance, therefore, they are seen as easy targets for the ambitious to step on, climbing the ladder of "success". It's not my myopic opinion, the workplace is getting much nastier.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Daily Meditation

Article of the Day:

I do have the power to use hurtful words. I react to stongly and spontaneously. Thinking things through gets lost in the perception of an attack on me. Being clearheaded is a moment by moment effort. It's too easy to lash out.

I apologize to everyone I have hurt with my words, and there has been many in recent times. In so many ways I see myself making progress in emotional development, then fall back into the old patterns of addled thinking.

I'm learning, I'm striving for a peaceful existence. I let little things bother me to the point of pain and rage. I think I'm monitoring it, I have to believe these instances are getting fewer and farther between. I do know my nature isn't to hurt those around me. I do have a goal to be a better person.

Why are we put on earth - to be a better person or to be a better worker? So much of our better nature is lost on the jobsite. How to hold your head high and have your spirit secure in the arena of office politics takes training in emotional intelligence. I'm a late, but willing, learner.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Squirellyness in Society

Article of the day:,0,7817545.column

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy - or go on Prozac"
-Susan Sheybani, Bush election campaign official, July 29, 2004

I read: Be a happy slave or be a chemical slave... or don't be a slave at all.

I have a new compassion for those people on meds. I was as once as cold and crass as the above Ms. Susan. The more I talk about workplace stress, I find that some could not go on another day without them. I find it sad and the ultimate condemnation of this sick society. Similar to the case of undocumented workers taking the day off and grinding this country to halt, why don't have a week that those on meds forestall them and go to work. That would be interesting.

They have captured our minds. All thought, values, and actions are simply in reaction to the seeking, spending and hoarding of money. We are not trully human in this modern day, but automons/robots, now being chemically induced to perform tasks we deeply don't want to do. Surrounded by horror and immersed in fear I believe people have the character of squirrels. Rushing about, burying nuts, jumping at every condition around them.

Some people need the drugs and I'm now the last person to comment on their situation. I knew it wasn't going to be for me. I am taking the time to learn how to relax the mind through meditation techniques and energize the body with yoga. These are century old tried and true methods, and while it takes an effort and time, I will say my perspective on life has improved and, most importantly I believe, I have developed a compassion for myself allowing me to have compassion for others. I don't believe I had much of that when I started. For those dealing with anger and stress, I recommend it highly.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No Escape from the Corporate Plantation

Let's look at popular television. By far, the ones with the buzz in the lunchroom are the ones based on a panel judges - American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway - and the resulting insults delivered to a hard working contestant. Can anyone identify the Stockholm Syndrome at play?

The Syndrome is the kidnapped siding with the kidnappers. Has anyone ever been standing in front the Bosses' desk getting a reprimand? Can you see yourself standing over a hot stove, creating a perfect souffle with the result of being insulted by the supervisor and his two ass kissers? Why is Simon even in your living room?

How about thinking the douchbag Don Trump is just funny as hell when he says, "You're fired" to an aspiring ass kisser. Isn't that entertainment?

Survivor is certainly an analogy for the workplace. Striving together, sometimes even saving each others' lives, in heated competition with the Other... and you conspire to lay off one of your own. How about that show where the contestants live in an enviroment with no privacy, constantly surveilled, and monitored? Sound like work?

Leave work at work when you go home. Then turn off the televison because all you will see there is reenforcement of the cutthroat corporate world you spend most of your waking moments in. Hard work is never rewarded, only judged, insulted and ridiculed... and your fellow workers will laugh their asses off. Then slap a phony smile on, slide your security badge and hide for another eight hours until the comfort of home (or sleeping place, a better description) can keep out the pain.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oprah Leads the Way

Oprah seems to be the only popular culture figure confronting this modern internal population explosion. I have seen three excellent shows in the past few months from Hating Your Job (85% do) to Sleeplessness (70%s of Americans have a sleep disorder) to High Blood Pressure/Hypertension (Oprah herself claimed to wig out - the mind and body does some crazy things when stressed.) The lower economic classes have been experiencing these conditions for years, it takes Oprah to explain it to the middle class.

Everyday I can find an article on the web dealing with people breaking down. The mean spirited laugh (Britney), or shake their heads in alarm and disgust (Santa's Christmas Eve murder spree). And all this with the normalized background of war pumping into their pysche through tv, radio and internet. If there is a shred of decency in people and they take on one injustice, it's not hard to find another, and another. Eventually, that person will be a puddle of tears.

My daily meditation is my personal General Strike. No one may request a thing from me, or talk to me. I will not do a thing. I will not use the earth's resources or will I be taxed. I will reflect on my better personal nature and assure myself I am a kind and loving person. I can't let the anger in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three Phrases of Diminishment

*******Recommended Reading*************


"Get over it" - Pure disregard for a another human being. Disdain of the highest order. Dismissal from an phoney elitist position. I vow never to use such a statement again.

"... I'm just saying." - The ultimate caveat to cover over slights, insults and all stupid hurtful statements. So many people seem to think they have the right of free speech at any time, on any subject, and about any person or situation... as long as it ends with this attachment. I don't have the same oppurtunity of freedom not to listen, with the effect of confrontation seeming rude. They can be rude, insensitive, and ignorant but I can't question, unless of course, ... I'm just saying.

"Are you sure?" and it's corrallary "Really?" - Ask this after all statements up to and including "The sky is blue" and "The grass is green." Pretend like you are listening helps bury deep self-doubt and shake confidence. Control all conversation and its outcome with this device.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Canary in a Coalmine

A Canary in a Coalmine April 2008

I’m a 25-year construction worker and for the past three years working maintenance. Two months ago I broke down at work and cried.

I never saw myself as the poster boy for work place stress. I had never before been with such a group of people as these. The job site became a turgid place of percolating pain. For a month before, every diminishing comment, every name called, every stupid political statement in my listening area went inside of me and caused rage. I had lost all coping mechanisms and my nerves were raw. I cracked up.

For a week or two I was a wreck. My sensitivities were so acute. Everyone was an ignorant brute. Dead ends were every where. Work is not a refuge for people, but another place of pain. I felt anxiety at a level never experienced before, with depression close behind. I can see why people run to the doctor and get mind benders. I couldn’t function. This couldn’t be happening to me.

Thankfully, I found understanding and camaraderie. I discovered this happens more than I knew. We have cute names for it like “flame out”, “wigged out”, etc. I heard many personal stories from others, many including pharmaceuticals as a relief (and a failure), and it made me feel not so alone. Simply, I had had enough and limited out. It happens in workplaces all over the country everyday.

In the midst of my extreme pain, I knew I was going to come out of this as better person and the first thing to do was to clean up my language. How I talk to people and how I am talked to by my co-workers will be monitored. I will not insult anyone intentionally, nor will I allow an insult to come my way, even the slightest joke. I will be quick to apologize and set the record straight if a joke had unintentional barbs and I will expect others to do the same. It’s an age-old dictum called respect. I will give it and I will demand it from others.

Talking going on in a room, even if you are not in the conversation, has an effect on others. Something I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to beforehand, but I can imagine how the only woman might feel with sexist talk swirling around her on a daily basis. It hurts. This is an example of a sensitivity that has grown in me since my incident.

I am now looking through a stress lens at life. Everyone bitches about work. Nobody leaves work at work, everyone brings it home. Their loved ones get the stick, not the Boss who instigates it. Domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse, anti-social PTSD-like behaviors are not inherent in this society but are caused by workplace (or lack of workplace) stress. Many look for relief by obsessive compulsive actions like marathon running, or even further alienating ourselves from the problem by taking a vacation in a strange place with strange people. Running away from it seems to be the only solution.

Applying these hard lessons learned to the art of organizing the work force; I see work place stress as the single most problematic issue to be thought of before a campaign can go forward. There has to be a comfort level before anyone will take a risk, especially about his or her employment. How does a campaign go forward and reduce the stress level? Many times the organizer is the most stressed one of all. I bring this forward for further discussion because I feel the Union has to offer stress relief before any real success will be seen.

How am I doing now? Fine, and many ways better than ever. It can be described as if an entity left me; a huge negative energy came out of my body. All the crap I had eaten in 30 years of workplace silence has drained me and gave me the opportunity to fill up again with a new attitude of, dare I say, love. I didn’t get the drugs society deems so necessary to cope. As is the case for all my personal problems, I try to intellectualize them and go to the library for research. One book waiting for me there was “Meditation for Dummies”. As I leafed through it, passages of extraordinary precise description of my situation shown forth. Not lousy advice like “toughen up”, but an understanding of how the mind can mislead you, how brain static is crippling and how to spend time nurturing yourself. I began immediately and meditation has, in many ways, saved me. I recommend it to everyone as a means of survival in this sick capitalistic society. It’s free and it’s easy.

The workplace is going to kill us all if we continue to fight back on the Boss’s terms. If working people continue to insult each other and diminish each other on a daily basis. If we allow ourselves to talk in a demeaning manner with crude abusive language. The Boss has to sit back and laugh, as we will never be unified. These are the lessons I learned way too late in life; I only wish to share them with my fellow workers trying to create a better world.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Message from The Swamp

The role of Health Care in making a miserable sick workplace can't be denied. The fact is people don't have the freedom to follow their interests or talents. Tied to the bi-weekly payout and the deductions from such wage, they grow more and more miserable, emotionally stressed, and ill enough to be using the plan. When they use just too much, down the road they go.

Back to the term "Deductions", the employer considers it a contribution, with the resulting implied statement the worker owes them for such a grand and benevolent act. First they make them sick and then the sick are grateful, a beautiful system of capitalized pain.

The working class has become arrogant towards the non-working class. Seperate, the kept ones, the house slaves of the capitalist system. Looking down from the BigHouse on the hill with disdain towards the field hands. The Boss and them have a "thing going on", an understanding. The others on the plantation, with the dysentary and non-rigid work ethic, deserve their fate if they can't find a sponsor or stand too tall when Boss comes around. You know who is the modern Booker T Washington is? Andy Stern of the SEIU

A personal Dred Scott Decision

Never trust the house slave, always trust the field hand. Andersonville…

With every timecard, fascism exists.
The free slaves torment the chained ones.
Personal freedom is verbally diminished.
Ideas improving workplace conditions are
Considered crazy, worthless.
Union stewards, backbit, hurting.
Die of broken hearts.

The Boss doesn’t have to manage.
Or think ahead, or care about his crew.
He must keep his hands on the wheel and steer
While the deckhands work hard and throw
Each other overboard.
An occasional sailor goes AWOL on shore leave,
The ship leaves every morning nonetheless.

Of course construction unions are
Recruiting from released prisoners.
It’s not a feel good program.
They respect these men for their minds and
Broken spirits.
The industry understands the manpower must
Police itself and the bullies are their willing security.
Fear has always been the motivator in the trades.

Where do you find yourself in the 9 to 5 world?
Trying to get back on the anthill, looking for crumbs?
Free to look at the sky and feel the sunshine on your face?
OR checking in too early in the morning to the punishing state of wage slavery?
Are you telling yourself how lucky you are?
And how you are better than others, needed and wanted by the employer?
Is it a kind prison? Does it put velvet on the cuffs? Is your mind at peace?

Corporate America is in the business of producing nooses
For half the working class.
The other half is now hooded, roped and waiting for the
Floor panel to fall open.
It’s the kind and compassionate worker being eliminated.
The person with the better human nature – the lover of
People over profits.
It’s the sympathetic suffering in these days and the resulting
Anger is misdirected unto themselves.
When the Outsiders critical mass and
Have Consensus on their common enemy.
When they have faith in themselves to implement
A caring economic system.
When hoods and nooses are removed and burnt and
The Spark we all have inside glows bright
The prison will be open and the slaves will be free.

Until that day I find it hard to interact with working people,
With jobs, that is. Their arrogance is suffocating to be around.
I am in pain thinking I had that attitude for thirty years.
My loyalty was to the working class and it should
Have been to the non-working class.
It's been a revolution of the mind,
A good, powerful, meaningful life change
One long repressed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Quit and You Should, Too

The American workplace is a petri dish of despondent, beaten down, soul and heartless, empty suits and work clothes. The viruses of materialism and the bacterium of consumerism mingle in the agar of capitalism. Sickness abounds and the workers are willing to a part of the experiment. In fact, their delusion tells them success is measured on how much mental illness and depravity they can take. Their coworkers, or fellow wage slaves, will remind them everyday not to utter a single complaint or discomfort. Above all, don't DO anything to improve a working condition, they will make sure to tell you how foolish an effort that would be, but be first in line to grab the benefit should, maybe, the request be granted.

This blog is dedicated to those who want to change a lifetime of conditioning from TV, family, society in general that impales you with doubt, alienation, and above all, stress. It is meant for healing the mind first and suggestions of readings and practical actions will be promoted. Next, after realizing your attitude is the correct way to live, is to extend understanding and compassion to your fellow workers, present and future. For a better world we have to change the worksite and it will be one mind at a time. Join the Escaped Wage Slave Movement. Maybe we'll have to work, but we won't let them chain our minds.